The Rhode Island Rams will close out their 2013-14 non-conference schedule this evening when they take on the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge. It’s right back at it for Rhody, as they’re just two days removed from their first road win of the season. And it’ll be pretty difficult to pick up their second one tonight; the Tigers will be URI’s toughest test since they faced Arizona in the NIT Season Tip-Off. LSU comes into this one at 9-2 on the season, with both losses coming against teams that are currently ranked in the Top 25. Here’s what needs to happen.
1. Bring the Same Intensity
Aside from a five (or so) minute gap, the Rams brought an insane amount of energy on both ends of the floor Thursday night. And it showed. Rhody generated turnovers, ran a solid half-court offense, and played a tough in-your-face defense. It’s no coincidence that T.J. Buchanan was recently named a co-captain – the rest of the team will need to emulate him once again.
2. Limit Foul Trouble for Bigs
We gave a rundown of Johnny O’Bryant III when we previewed the Tigers over the summer, but another LSU forward has emerged to join him as a threat down low. Freshman Jordan Mickey is not only second to JOB-III in scoring, but he leads his squad on the glass with 8.1 boards per game. Defending this two-headed monster will not be easy… but Biruta, Onyekaba, and Martin will need to stay on the floor to do it.
3. Munford and Matthews
The “two Ms” combined for 46 of URI’s 75 points last time out at Brown, and they’ll need to something similar tonight. The Tigers are averaging 78.7 points per game so they can fill up a box score, especially on their home floor. The Rams have to find scoring from somewhere – Matthews and Munford seem like the top candidates.
4. Martin Block Party?
We mentioned LSU’s pair of imposing big men down low, and they’re so tough that the Rams will need something more besides “stay out of foul trouble” to slow them down. Enter Hassan Martin.
URI frosh Hassan Martin (@IAmElite_ ) now 5th in Atlantic 10 in blocked shots & has played an avg of 150 mins less than 4 players above him.
— Chris DiSano (@CDiSano44) January 4, 2014
If he can put up the kind of blocked shot numbers he has been – or at least alter some shots – it could throw O’Bryant and Mickey off their games.
5. Keep the Free Throws Coming
Unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ve probably heard about Rhody’s struggled from the line this season. Well they remedied some of them on Thursday night, hitting on 19 of their 22 attempts from the charity stripe. As it turned out, every single foul shot turned out to be huge against Brown. The same will no doubt apply tonight – whatever they did leading up to the Brown game worked. Let’s hope they can keep it going.
So what’s everyone thinking before tonight’s game? Can Rhody hang with one of the SEC’s best teams? Let us know in the comments!